Let's face it, we've all sat through an uncomfortable presentation (or two) and it's not because the presenter lacked charisma or good talking points. We're talking about the flashy deck with too many animations, WordArt icons, and paragraphs of text in 9-point font. No one wants to be that guy. So follow these tips for your next Keynote presentation and you'll be sure to leave your audience talking - for the right reasons.

1. Say "no" to bullet points.

The first thing most people do when creating a Keynote presentation is start a short list of bullet points ... each point followed by too many words ... on each slide. Bullet points can add a surprising amount of visual clutter to a slide and cause the viewer's eyes to bounce around the screen. Save bullets for your presenter notes to organize your thoughts and remind you of all your talking points.

2. One fact per slide, please.

With bullet points eliminated, we also want to avoid large blocks of text that are visually treacherous for viewers and hard to read for anyone not in the first two rows. Instead, highlight one bold fact or metric on a slide that will capture your audience's attention, and then verbally convey the importance or meaning of this item. Because all details aren't on the slide, this technique also forces the audience to give you their attention.

Conference presenter photo | l i g h t p o e t

Conference presenter photo | l i g h t p o e t

3. Write Tweet-worthy headlines.

It's common practice for event attendees to live-tweet the presentation they're watching. Writing Twitter-friendly headlines and facts (meaning 140-characters or less) will give your audience snappy statements to send into the social sphere. Forbes highlights an example from an Apple WWDC keynote, where Tim Cook repeatedly used the line "iOS 7 is the biggest change to iOS since the iPhone."

As a result, this buzz-generating, easy-to-tweet snippet showed up on the Twitter feeds of many top news outlets. Use this technique strategically to make sure your most important messages can be easily shared.

4. Use high-quality images.

Even short, tweetable, interesting facts can fall flat if they are on a sad, dismal, black-and-white slide. Or even worse: accompanied by a poor-quality, pixelated image that you copied and pasted from another website. Captivating images should reinforce the emotion of a slide, even if the information seems dry.

Highlighting year-over-year performance increases? Try a background image of a mountain climber ascending a peak or a high-energy celebration.

Need to pitch a new product to investors? In addition to actual product shots, consider other images that convey what your product enables users to accomplish, or the emotions it will inspire. Kid-targeted products can be accompanied by fun backgrounds of candy, while business tools can benefit from images of clean, productive workspaces.

Happy summer photo | dolgachov

Happy summer photo | dolgachov

5.  Make some Keynote magic.

Now that you have slides with minimal text and beautiful imagery, it is an opportune time to work in some of the features that make Keynote presentations stand out from the crowd. Keynote's Magic Move allows you to create the effect of objects moving from one slide to the next. This effect is great for having text, charts, or images slide into or out of a slide as you go through the presentation.

Magic Move is also fantastic for displaying scrolling views of webpages or other images that wouldn't fit on one screen. But proceed with caution. Like cologne and hashtags, this technique is best used in moderation. Too much motion in a presentation will distract from your ultimate message, and create a seasick audience!

6. Save custom themes.

When you have a Keynote presentation that looks and acts the way you want it to, save it as a theme that you or your teammates can easily reuse in the future. Working from a custom theme ensures that your company has consistent presentation styles, and everyone is using the right version of logos and company images. This simple tip can instantly elevate your entire team's presentation game moving forward.

Web concept illustration | bloomua

Web concept illustration | bloomua

7. Embrace being left to your own devices.

For Apple-enthusiasts, one of the best things about Keynote is that presentations can be seamlessly transferred across devices. This makes building and editing presentations on the go a breeze, with iPad and iPhone apps offering robust functionality.

When it's time to present, use an iPad to project your visuals and show your presenter notes, while using your iPhone to advance through the presentation. Using familiar devices reduces many of the day-of jitters that come with using whatever laptop and remote happen to be available.

Follow these seven steps to create better Keynote slides, and impress your audience with masterful presentations. And, if you need royalty-free photos or vectors for your presentations, be sure to sign up for a Bigstock 7-day Free Trial, and download up to 35 free images. Have fun.

AuthorAshley Kemper

Consider this: when you email a business contact, client, or colleague, you are essentially presenting yourself and your business in the form of text. You might think that in the era of instant communication, 140-character limits, and TLAs (three-letter acronyms) your email style doesn't matter very much, but ask anyone who's ever hit the accidental Reply All or found they misspelled a contact's name only after hitting Send, and you might get a different answer.

To be clear, we're not talking about email marketing here; that's a whole different tool. Same goes for social media, where even the rules for image specs can get pretty site specific.

This is about the everyday written back and forth you have with professional contacts of all kinds – clients or potential clients, networking contacts, organizations. From the old-school memo, to the quick one-word “yes” that gets a project started, a lot can happen in email. Here are some tips for improving your email communication and polishing your professional first impression.

1. Proofread

Always, always look over your email before you send it. Look it over as carefully as if it were being carved in marble. You do not want your recipient to suspect you actually don't know the difference between their, they're and there, or how to capitalize and punctuate sentences. Or that you're just too lazy to notice detai9ls. (See what I did there?) Read over what you have written, out loud if possible, and make sure you have presented yourself as you would like to be perceived.

Email target image | mkabakov

Email target image | mkabakov

2. Strike an appropriate tone

The tone of your email depends a lot on context. Have you ever met the recipient in person? Is this a “cold call” or a welcome referral? Each situation may be slightly different, but it's generally safer to err on the side of respect, using a person's full name and a professional tone, especially for a first contact. As collaborations unfold, your relationship - and your tone - will naturally shift toward the more informal. But don't assume it's okay to start with Yo, dude as an opening line, and remember there's no sarcasm font in email, so if you're not sure how you sound, save it for a face-to-face meeting.

3. Cut to the chase

Start off by being as clear as you can in your subject line. Reference the specific project or person who has referred you, or your area of shared interest. Think of search words this person might someday use to retrieve your email.

Remember that professional doesn't have to mean lots of big words. Keep your ideas crisp and your sentences clear. If there's an easier way to say something, choose it. If you're not sure, look it up. Get a copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk & White, and follow their advice, especially the command to “omit needless words.”

Email cloud image | olechowski

Email cloud image | olechowski

4. Don't waste time ... or bandwidth

Save custom graphics and other bells and whistles for your newsletters, website and Facebook page. Imagine the person you are contacting is waiting for a helicopter on a mountaintop with 10% left on his smartphone. A quick update on a project comes through even on a poorly-connected device in a remote location, but waiting for your rainbow logo to load makes it unwelcome.

Also, don't attach too much "stuff" to your emails. A simple document is no big deal, but if you have a lot of bandwidth-hogging photos to deliver, consider using a file-sharing service like Dropbox to stash all of your big files, and invite others to take a look when they are ready (and on WiFi).

5. Sign off accordingly

It's always a good idea to sign off with your contact information, especially if you have a website where people can learn more. But you don't need to list every handle on every platform. Stick with the basics, and by all means do not include any graphics, logos, cat memes or favorite quotes.

Approach your business email with deliberate attention to detail, and present your clearest and best language. You may find communicating more clearly helps boost your overall confidence. At the very least, you won't be judged by the content of your typos.

And, if you need royalty-free images for your email marketing campaigns, be sure to sign up for a 7-day Free Trial of a Bigstock subscription. You'll be able to download up to 5 images a day, for 7 days, for free. Have fun!

AuthorAnne K. Williams

This week's free image is a grand aerial stunner. A colorful shot of a rice field that could easily be dubbed 50 Shades of Green ... if we were into puns, of course. Ahem. This cool photo could find its way into plenty of travel blogs and marketing endeavors, and the rice can't be beat. Price, the price can't be beat. Hey, it's free!

The image comes to us from Bigstock contributor Meogia, from a collection that also includes royalty-free photos of cute kids, paper lanterns, and the villages of Vietnam. 

The image will be available for free downloading until 11:59PM EST, Sunday August 2nd, 2015. 

And, if you're new to Bigstock, be sure to sign up for even more free photos, illustrations, and vectors with a 7-day Free Trial. Happy downloading. 

AuthorBrian Masefield

The following post was originally featured on the blog of our parent company Shutterstock, on Tuesday July 21, 2015. As this change in its auto-trace policy also pertains to Bigstock contributors, it is being shared here.

Vectors are a powerful type of content. They are editable, adaptable, and scalable without loss of resolution. Our vector collection is one of the most diverse on the market. At their best, vectors are simple, clean, well constructed and easily editable in clearly labeled layered files. Well constructed vectors are a result of using tools within vector editing software such as the pen tool, gradients, fills and blends.

Up until now, images converted into vectors solely using auto trace or live trace have been accepted into our library of content. While an auto traced image is technically a vector, the result of the tracing process drastically diminishes the quality of the original image and severely limits the capability of the vector beyond scalability. We see beautiful watercolor paintings and gorgeous photos converted into vectors simply for the sake of making these pixel based images into scalable vectors, but the end result is a poorly executed vector version of what was previously a beautiful image.

We have received feedback from customers who have expressed frustration when downloading auto traced paintings, photos or textures. They find that while the vector is scalable, the image quality has been completely lost when viewed in a magnified form and is far too complex and time consuming to edit within an acceptable time frame. Vectors containing thousands of poorly constructed paths are not only extremely large files, but they are also nearly impossible to edit. The usefulness and power of a vector is severely diminished when burdened by excessive amounts of auto traced elements.
Based on our analysis of content performance and customer feedback, moving forward we will only accept auto traced one-color line art and flat art. Auto-traced full color photos and illustrations will now be rejected with the following reason: Unacceptable Auto Trace – We are no longer accepting this type of content. (Continue reading on Shutterstock's blog ...)

Top image: Abstract colorful splash background. Watercolor background illustration by Shutterstock contributor HAKKI ARSLAN.

AuthorBrian Masefield
Stock photo of diner table top with menu.

Stock photo of diner table top with menu.

Here in New York City, our sidewalks are paved with hungry passersby. They're also paved with welcome mats into numerous restaurants and other dining establishments. It seems every time we turn around, a new diner or cafe is opening up.

With ever-growing dining options popping up all over, the importance of having a specific style for your restaurant's design graphics and icons is more essential than ever. From napkins to awnings, restaurant owners have a lot to consider in their plight to stand out from the crowd and to stay true to their brand. And one of those key marketing assets is their menu.

We devoured our graphic and icon collections for these restaurant design necessities, and proudly present some of our favorites below. Each image is royalty-free and ready for downloading. Bon appetit!

Calligraphic design elements for dining menus | GraphicStore

Calligraphic design elements for dining menus | GraphicStore

Vector illustration of cafe menu | Marchiez

Vector illustration of cafe menu | Marchiez

Illustration of restaurant menu design | L.M.V

Illustration of restaurant menu design | L.M.V

Vector illustration of seafood menu | SmirnovaJulia

Vector illustration of seafood menu | SmirnovaJulia

Vector element sets of coffee and coffee beans | Betelgejze

Vector element sets of coffee and coffee beans | Betelgejze

Wine icons and labels | Twin design

Wine icons and labels | Twin design

Retro vintage style menu icons | mashabr

Retro vintage style menu icons | mashabr

For more eye-catching icons, check out our Menu Icons lightbox below. Happy downloading.

And, if you're new to Bigstock, be sure to sign up for a 7-day Free Trial of a Bigstock subscription. You'll be able to download up to 5 images a day, for 7 days, for free. Have fun!

AuthorBrian Masefield

This week's free image is a colorful photo of macarons. Not to be confused with macaroons (though they too are yummy), these delectable desserts are too good to pass up. The same can be said for our free image. The photo is sure to provide some culinary color to any foodie endeavor you have cookin'. The image will be available for free downloading until 11:59PM EST, Sunday July 26th, 2015.

The photos comes to us from Bigstock contributor Petoei, from a collection that also includes royalty-free images of ribbons, motivational quotes, and even more macarons. Be sure to check it out.

And, if you're new to Bigstock, why not get things going with a 7-day Free Trial of a Bigstock subscription? You'll be able to download up to 5 images a day for 7 days - giving you the power to grab plenty of pics of both macarons and macaroons. Happy downloading!

AuthorBrian Masefield

In an age where social media rules just about everything around us, it's easy to get tripped up on technicalities. Take images, for example. You not only need to pick great ones for your social media posts, but you also have to ensure each image is suited for the network you're working with. And, to make matters more complicated, these size specifications aren't the same from channel to channel.

It's true. From Facebook to Tumblr, each platform has its own set of image rules, and this social media struggle can sometimes (if not always) be very very real. This is why we compiled all of the sizes you need into one comprehensive and alphabetical list. Whether you're using photos and images on your personal page or your brand's community feed, save yourself some time with this handy guide below. Post away!

Facebook thumbs up | L_amica

Facebook thumbs up | L_amica


Profile image: 180x180 pixels

For feeds: 1200x627 pixels

Cover image: 851x315 pixels

Google Plus screen | Denys Prykhodov

Google Plus screen | Denys Prykhodov


Profile image: 250x250 pixels

Cover image: 1068x608 pixels

Shared image: 497x373 pixels

Instagram theme | Liubou

Instagram theme | Liubou


Profile image: 110x110 pixels

Image size: 640x640 pixels

LinkedIn logo | rvlsoft

LinkedIn logo | rvlsoft


Profile image: 500x500 pixels

Background image: 1400x425

Brand page banner: 646x220 pixels (minimum)

Standard logo: 100x60 pixels (for businesses)

Square logo: 50x50 pixels

Pinterest logo on board | rvlsoft

Pinterest logo on board | rvlsoft


Profile image: 165x165 pixels

Pinned images: 236 pixels (wide, height is scaled)

Board images:

  • 222x150 pixels (larger thumbnails)
  • 55x55 (smaller thumbnails)
Tumblr page | mady70

Tumblr page | mady70


Profile image: 128x128 pixels

Sharing images/posts: 500x750 pixels

Twitter-ish bird | oculo

Twitter-ish bird | oculo


Profile image: 400x400 pixels

For feeds: 1024x512 pixels (maximum)

Header image: 1500x500 pixels







Hope you enjoyed this cheat sheet. And, if you need any royalty-free stock images for your social media posts, like the ones used above and in the lightbox below, why not try Bigstock? We're currently offering a 7-day Free Trial of our most popular subscription. Happy downloading.

AuthorAshley Hefnawy

This week's free image is ... out of this world. (Have we met? We love puns.) Yes, this illustration of a virtual planet earth is a cool blue doozy. At first glance, it simply looks like our most favorite planet, not counting Saturn. But, if you look closely, as your eyes reach the bottom of the sphere, it almost looks like the head and neck of a human being. Of particular note: The space between Texas and Florida looks like a near-perfect outline of an ear. Just sayin'.

This sneaky dazzler - Earth, Virtually - is available for free downloading until 11:59PM EST, Sunday July 19, 2015.

The image comes to us from Bigstock contributor Artemegorov, from a collection that also includes royalty-free illustrations of trucks, tires, and football fields. Happy downloading.

AuthorBrian Masefield

Here at Bigstock, we hear from many folks who both praise and curse the functions of Photoshop. Yes, the photo-editing powerhouse can do just about anything to your images. But, it can also be a royal pain in your design assets if you don't need to harness all of its power at once. "But I only want to do one little thing," you've said on more than one occasion. We hear you. We really do.

With this very concern in mind, we scoured our entire Bigstock blog to provide you with some classic - and very effective - Photoshop quick tips. Each tutorial is brief and beginner-level. So, fear not the fun of Photoshop, and embrace these tutorials below. Good luck.

1. How to Create Sparkling Eyes

Sometimes you just want those eyes to pop! In this quick tutorial, We'll show you how to get those eyes sparkling so they can make the model in your photo stand out and help your projects shine. Continue ...


2. How to Sharpen Your Image or Photo

Stock photo of woman and her dog.

We all know that even a beautiful photo can sometimes be just a little too soft. You might be going for a richer, sharper look than what your photo is giving you. In this tutorial, we'll help you easily sharpen up any photo. Continue ...


3. How to Give a Photo a Vintage Look

Stock image of woman with hat.

In this tutorial, we'll teach you how to give a vintage matte effect to a photo in two easy steps. For this example, we're using this photo of a cute couple, but this effect should work on any sharp photo. Continue ...


4. How to Make a Meme

Cat meme.

We love memes. Love 'em. If you do too, and you want to make an internet meme that wildly spreads across the web, and makes you really popular with your friends, and could potentially launch you into a professional career as a world-class memer, check out this tutorial. Continue ...


5. How to Remove a White Background

Stock photo of flower with white space.

One of the most common photography techniques is to shoot against a seamless white background to keep all the focus on the subject. This may be cool for a product catalog, but when designing a website or brochure, a white background might not work. With this tutorial, you’ll be able to make overlays, and use graphics in a way that looks clean, finished, and professional. Continue ...

And, if you're looking for royalty-free images to use for your projects, be sure to try a 7-day Free Trial of a Bigstock subscription. Happy downloading.

AuthorBrian Masefield
Photo of Camila Prada and her ceramic tableware.

Camila Prada recently ran a Kickstarter campaign to bring her cute, ceramic tableware characters to life. Capturing the imagination of a whole new audience with her passion, drive, and personal ambition, she smashed her initial crowd-funding target within 24 hours.

Having worked in the ceramic industry for the last 10 years as an artist, freelance designer, and craft maker, Camila Prada has experienced firsthand the labor-intensive process involved in making short-run ceramics. This often meant her collections would sell out faster than she could make them.

When it was time to scale her small business, Kickstarter felt like the natural route to raise the necessary funds. At the end of her campaign, the total raised was five times more than her initial target.

Read on to see some of her tips for Kickstarter success.

1. Follow your passion

Camila started her career as a crafts-person and artist. Shortly after graduating, she hit the craft circuit. "I didn't have any business skills back then so it was a steep learning curve, and I wasn't making profits."

Taking inspiration from a craft fair stall selling affordably-priced jewelry from store-bought parts, she enrolled in the only industrial ceramic MA course in the world at the time. "It prepared me to work for companies as a designer, which I thought I could do for a few years to equip myself with the knowledge to strike out on my own."

Photo of pottery maker.

2. Build trust

As a designer, the main objective is to create something people want. "Kickstarter is for projects - it's not designed for charities. At the heart of it, you're asking people to invest in you and your products," says Camila, who advises creating something "attractive and cool" that people are willing to pay for.

Getting pledges is a staggered process with a few steps involved. Developing a relationship with people online (potential customers) who like what you do, is the key to a successful campaign. It's very hard to put a value on reach, as a large audience doesn't mean people will pledge.

Instead, it's essential to nurture an engaged audience—and that takes time. "People need time to trust you. They see your work over and over in their news feeds, and months later when they're ready to gift something to themselves or they need a birthday gift, they make a purchase from you."

3. Make It Personal

"I had been thinking about it and making notes in a Google Doc years before I actually launched anything. My idea was really convoluted at the beginning but then I narrowed it down to the most obvious thing and what I really needed: funding for manufacturing. I knew that the ceramic history of Stoke-on-Trent was integral to my story. I think it's a really special thing that's taken for granted and kind of forgotten. The techniques, materials developed, and the industry veterans here, are unique in the world."

For any small business owner, the idea of raising money through crowd-funding holds a huge amount of appeal, but success stories like Camila's are rare. Luckily, she found a great method for outreach. "Connecting with your community is essential; one of the best ways to do this is to make a campaign film," says Camila.

"Learning how to talk to the camera takes practice, and I scripted what I wanted to say before the camera started rolling. There was a lot of editing and some re-shoots, but it was worth it. I knew I had to be the 'presenter' as all my favorite Kickstarter videos have that element, and it's a great way to tell your story."

Photo of Prada's pottery.

4. Nurture & Collaborate

Camila's success arguably owes much to the relationship she has nurtured over the years with her online community of ceramic enthusiasts, collectors, and buyers. "I've done a lot of 'micro-blogging' over the last three years," she reveals. "I've opened up my process - and what I'm going though - to the world online."

"Collaborating with established artists helps widen reach, and that's awesome. This is why I included collaborations in my campaign, as I needed all the help I could get. But it's one factor (of many) that needs to be working to actually get pledges. The artists I collaborated with are all amazingly talented and I am super grateful they were up for getting involved."

5. Plan Your Rewards

There is an art to this. Low-priced pledges in limited quantities are the way to go. You have to encourage people to pledge early as this is essential in gaining momentum for your campaign.

"The target goal was the least amount of funds I needed to get a minimum order of storage jars from the manufacturer," she says. "Because I'm a fan of Kickstarter, I studied my favorite campaigns and looked for parallels with what I'm doing in my own work."

6. Set Realistic Targets

Be patient. It's very hard to get a large amount of people to drop everything and give you their hard-earned cash just like that, without knowing anything about you or your brand.

"I was fortunate to get featured in the style sections of both The Observer and The Sunday Times - major publications with readerships of 100,000+, yet this exposure didn't translate to massive sales. This early experience taught me that potential customers - the people who genuinely like what you do - are your most valuable assets. Building a relationship with these people is the best route to success."

Photo of Prada's collection of ceramic tableware characters.

7. Do Your Research

Give yourself months in advance to have a successful campaign. "I already have experience selling online, but I also know that's it's all about share-ability. You need to create something people want to show other people."

Find other successful campaigns you can relate to. Have a very clear objective. Know your story. Is it compelling? Is your product or idea something someone will share with his/her Facebook friends? Gather up a list of relevant publications and bloggers that might want to cover your idea. When you're ready, give yourself at least two months to create your video and prototypes before you launch, and start building an audience for what you do.

"A big mistake people can make is launching a campaign then sitting back assuming that the entire Kickstarter community will be exposed to their campaign. This isn't true. You still have to promote it yourself. All the successful campaigns I have read about started promoting their idea months before the Kickstarter doors open. In many ways, this can make or break your campaign."

8. Be An Entrepreneur

"Kickstarter gave me a chance to produce my designs in a way that actually brings me a return for the work I put in. It would not be sustainable otherwise. With the internet, we have an opportunity to build our own audiences, which would have been impossible ten or twenty years ago. It does take an entrepreneurial mindset, but it can mean creating a living for yourself when 'the gatekeepers' of the world are not choosing you."

"You have a chance to choose yourself," Prada concludes. "I like the freedom of creating my own schedule and using all of my skills - I wouldn't change it for the world."

Learn more about Camila Prada's Kickstarter campaign and her cute storage jar characters at camilaprada.com. And, if you need royalty-free stock images for your own campaigns, you can start things off with a 7-day Free Trial from Bigstock.

About the Author: Lisa Hassell writes for a number of international publications, focusing on illustration, graphic art and creative business. She is the director of Inkygoodness.com.



AuthorLisa Hassell